I accompanied my parents on some holiday shopping yesterday, which included a place called the World Market, a sometimes creepy in a culturally appropriating the 3rd world kind of way store that nevertheless, has a really good selection of gourmet foods (especially chocolate, coffee, tea, mustard and spices). They also have a good selection of beer, but the best part is that they sell most of their beers as individual bottles as well as in 6-packs. There were so many beers I had never tried, so I put together a mixed pack to drink at home this week. Maybe I should mention here that I eat tons of fruits and vegetables and healthy things as well, I'm just using this vacation to focus on beer. After all, it's a vacation, right? So my mixed pack included the following:
Last Friday I made the rounds of a few places in the Short North and caught up with several friends I hadn't seen in a while (this seems to be the trend for my Columbus visits: food, beer, playing catch-up with old friends). We went to Betty's for dinner, Jeni's Ice Creams for dessert, and the Surly Girl Saloon for drinks.
I had a veggie melt ($7) at Betty's, that was tasty and came with incredibly good garlic mashed potatoes. It was a lot of food for the price and my beer was tasty too! I had a Bell's Special Double Cream Stout, which I'm going to wait to review because I liked it so much I bought a bottle that's chilling in the garage. Jeni's has really interesting and inventive flavor combinations that I haven't seen anywhere else (also super expensive). I have been adventurous the last two times I went there and was moderately impressed with the results, so this time I stuck to the good stuff and ordered the Dark Chocolate Gelato ($3.75/one scoop). It was delicious but the true surprise was the cone! I don't know where they get their cones or if they make their own, but the sugar cone was delicious, crisp and had a strong vanilla flavor. I heart ice cream. The end.
After dessert we met up with other folks at the Surly Girl Saloon. I really like the Surly Girl and have gone there every time I'm home since it opened (2005?). It's women-owned (same folks as Betty's in fact) and the menu tells you which beers are local, organic, and from women-owned breweries. They 24 beers on draft and in the past I've had a number of them. One that sticks out in my mind was Avery's Maharaja, probably because it was the first Imperial IPA I ever had. It was a very alcoholic, almost wine-like beer. I remember it being very hoppy, fruity and citrusy (can I make up words here?). Anyway, they didn't have that one on tap, so I started with the Columbus Brewing Company 1859 Porter ($5), supposedly based on a recipe from 1859. It was pretty much exactly what I think of when I think of a porter, very drinkable with earthy roasted aromas and a roasted malt and chocolate taste. It was good but not super impressive, so I switched gears and went with a more robust, stronger beer next. I ordered the Moylan's Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale ($5), which was good. It was really rich and a little sweet and heavy, but definitely more along the lines of what I was looking for than the CBC porter. The Surly Girl has always struck me as a bit expensive and I'm sure I could have found CBC on tap for less elsewhere, but the environment is fun and the back room is a good place to camp out and drink with friends.
All in all a super fun evening with several super fun people!
I met a friend for lunch yesterday at Bodega, a cafe/bar/restaurant in the Short North conveniently about a block from where I was staying with my sister (good thing too, as there was a -15 wind chill). I had been once before for lunch (but no beer) around Thanksgiving and had a glazed pear and onion panini, which sounded much better than it actually was (the pear was overcooked and basically became jam: good idea, poor execution). This time however, I avoided the long panini list and ordered a pizza with marinated portobellos, red peppers, and fontina cheese. The pizza was good, the ingredient combination was tasty, but there was very little cheese on it; when they first brought it out I thought I had mistakenly ordered a cheeseless pizza! It was a decent size for the price though, and of course, pizza is the perfect companion for beer.
I wish I had more time to explore Bodega's beer offerings, because they were substantial. I didn't count the number of taps but there must have been close to 50. The beer menu was 5 pages long and included a large number of bottles, which I didn't pay as much attention to. I wanted to try something seasonal and local, but out of the dozen or so seasonal beers, the only ones that appealed to me I had tried previously at the Surly Girl or could easily get in Massachusetts. I, like the sucker for advertising that I am, went instead with their most popular (and one of the most expensive) beers on draft, the Founders Breakfast Stout. It was $4 for an 8oz glass (pint glasses are 16oz, so it would have been $8/pint). I didn't take any tasting notes because I was busy catching up with aforementioned friend I hadn't seen in 2 years. This also meant that I didn't spend much time thinking about the beer as I was drinking it, because I was too busy talking/listening. A sad fate indeed :D I was expecting something great, since I rarely pay that much for a pint, but I honestly don't remember the specifics of the beer, which is a shame because it's supposed to be really good. All in all, I'll have to try it again to decide if it's any good and the moral of the story is that I shouldn't buy expensive beers that I really want to taste if I'm planning on ignoring them once they're on the table.
While I'm visiting my folks in Columbus, Ohio, I thought I'd make the most of the change of location and try as many local beers as I could. Ohio however, isn't exactly known as the beer capital of the midwest, so I've expanded my parameter to include beers that I haven't seen around Massachusetts.
The Old Leghumper was a little light for a "robust porter", lightly carbonated with very little head that dissipated quickly after pouring. A lot of roasted malt and chocolate aromas, slightly sweet smelling but not too sweet tasting, which was nice (I don't really like sweet beers), not much on the hops front. It was a very drinkable beer; I had most of the 6-pack over the course of the evening, which at 5.70% ABV wasn't difficult to do. I drank one from the bottle, which accented the bitter chocolate and gave it a slightly metallic, bitter taste (possibly just from the cap residue). Overall a good beer but not super impressionable.
I finally found the time to sit down and make the food blog that I keep talking about. This will hopefully be the place where I share all of the recipes I make, pictures of food I take, and generally relate my gustatory adventures. I'll try to play catch up and post some of the (many, many) images I have of food and bread that I've made, but for now I'll start by keeping track of the beers I'm trying while home for the holidays. Hope you all enjoy reading as much as I do eating and drinking!